RFS working, but several challenges still remain - exec

22 April 2013 23:55  [Source: ICIS news]

CHICAGO (ICIS)--The US Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is working and has created significant economic growth, but it still faces several challenges that remain to be solved, an executive at a life sciences investment firm said on Monday.

The RFS was created by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to establish a US fuel volume mandate to boost ethanol, biodiesel and other renewable resources.

“We need to continue to modify it; we need to continue to adapt it,” said Roger Wyse, president of Biogreentech at Burrill & Company.

“The critical stimulus that plays out is going to have a broad range of impacts on developing a bio-based economy,” he said at the Bio International Convention.

Wyse said one challenge is the ongoing debate about the blend wall, or the limit on the use of ethanol in gasoline.

Most fuel retailers sell gasoline that contains 10% of ethanol. Although the US Environmental Projection Agency (EPA) had authorised the use of gasoline that contains 15% of ethanol, critics say it can cause harm to vehicles made before 2001.

Wyse said the ongoing debate has resulted in a number of lawsuits seeking to overturn the EPA’s decision.

While the renewable fuels industry has plenty of investment opportunities, other challenges include availability and accessibility to lignocellulosic feedstock at attractive costs, Wyse said.

The industry also faces scaled-up risks of new technologies for cellulosic biofuels, and there is limited access to sufficient capital for continuous development and wide-scale deployment, as well as new logistics and infrastructure, he added.

In addition, the federal government needs better implementation of Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs), Wyse said.

RINs are credits refiners use to meet government mandates for blending ethanol into the gasoline pool.

The EPA recently issued a Noticed of Proposed Rulemaking after discovering more than 140m fraudulently created biodiesel RINs.

Wyse said the US has “done the right thing” in putting together an overall strategy, but there are still issues that need to be addressed.

“We need evolving business models, political will, patience and persistence to achieve the long-term goals of the RFS,” he said.

The Bio International Convention runs from Monday through Wednesday.

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By: Tracy Dang
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